HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 20: Original orc costume from "The Lord Of The Rings" series on display at the opening of Rich Correll's "Icons Of Darkness" VIP celebration on October 20, 2021 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
What Happened To The Orcs After Sauron's Defeat In The Lord Of The Rings?
J.R.R. Tolkien’s texts describe the origin of Middle-Earth’s orcs as being created early on by the Dark Lord Morgoth, with “The Rings of Power” further exploring the theory that the villainous creatures result from corrupting other beings. While fans more or less understand where they came from, it is less clear where they went after Sauron’s defeat.
Tolkien described the aftermath of the One Ring’s destruction in “Return of the King.” The author wrote, “As when death smites the swollen brooding thing that inhabits their crawling hill and holds them all in sway, ants will wander witless and purposeless and then feebly die, so the creatures of Sauron, orc or troll or beast spell-enslaved, ran hither and thither mindless.”
In this ending, Tolkien implies the orcs are essentially beings with no sense of autonomy that lose their will to continue and eventually die once Sauron is vanquished. While the orcs in Tolkien’s work have a grim fate, it’s worth noting that the Prime Video series is seemingly on track to give the race a more nuanced story that humanizes the villainous creatures.